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MIDTOWN, UPPER EAST & WEST SIDES

VOLUME 5, NUMBER 3

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V isit us online a t w w w. M anha t t an E x pr e s s .co m

MIDTOWN, UPPER EAST & WEST SIDES

VOLUME 5, NUMBER 3

FEBRUARY 7 – 20, 2019

BILLIE JEAN’S GRAND SLAM

Tennis icon and allies pan museum expand plan Page 5

PHOTO BY DAVID DOOBININ

Billie Jean King, right, speaking at Saturday’s rally against the American Museum of Natural Histor y’s plan to expand into its surrounding park, with members of Communit y United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park. 1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • © 2 0 19 S C H N E P S M E D I A


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King and Co. in grand slam against museum plan BY ALEJANDR A O’CONNELLDOMENECH

T

ennis great Billie Jean King and fellow protesters volleyed barbs at the American Museum of Natural History last Saturday over the Upper West Side institution’s planned expansion in Theodore Roosevelt Park. The demonstrators rallied on the museum’s steps on Central Park West at the Feb. 2 action. The legal challenge against the museum expansion is currently in the appeal process. A decision on the appeal is expected in the spring. “Preserving our public parks, especially here in New York, is vitally important,” King told the rally. The tennis icon lives nearby. The protesters said developers — and museums that want to grow — have no right to take away the precious scant green space available to New Yorkers. According to one protester, if the museum needs more space, “it should build up,” not out. “We need the city government to abide by the promise — reflected on the placards at the entrances of the park — that this is a shared recreational space to be available to both the general public and museum visitors,” King said. The museum’s expansion plan, which has been in the works since 2014, would see it take nearly a quarter-acre of the 17.58-acre Upper West Side park in order to construct the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation. The $383 million center would be a place of public exhibitions and an active scientific and educational institution, according to the museum’s Web site. The turf war pits a small neighborhood-based nonprofit versus the museum, one of the city’s major cultural institutions. Last March, Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park filed a lawsuit against the museum, arguing that construction on the new center would negatively impact the park. More recently, the group scored a victory when a judge put a temporary restraining order on the project, blocking construction on it. But on Dec. 10, the museum was given a green light to begin construction after the restraining order was lifted. Just a week later, though, Justice Judith Gische, of the Appellate Division of New York Supreme Court, granted a “stay pending appeal,” in response to a request by Michael Hiller, the attorney representing C.U.P.T.R.P. According to a museum representative, the Appellate Court dropped the “stay pending appeal,” meaning that construction on the Gilder Center can theoretically begin. But to the members of C.U.P.T.R.P., this is about more than just an acre of Schneps Media

PHOTOS BY PETER DOOBININ

A protester’s placard quoted pop-ar t great Andy Warhol’s view on land: “Not ruining it is the most beautiful ar t that anybody could ever want.”

King slammed the museum’s plan harder than she hit it to Bobby Riggs!

land. According to attorney Hiller, the museum’s proposed “land grab” violates New York law. In 1807 the space was dedicated as a public park. In 1876 the New York State Legislature passed a law allowing New York City to enter into a lease agreement with the museum, renting the latter a portion of the park for a new facility. Over the next several years, the museum expanded. But for each new building, the museum asked for and obtained special permission from the

Legislature. However, for this new proposed expansion, the museum did not go through this process, according to a press release from the nonprofit. “Under the [New York City] Charter, any time the city gives away or sells public land, especially parkland, and no state approval has been obtained, the city must submit to an administrative process known as the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure or ULURP,” Hiller said in a statement. “When the city gave the museum permission to expand into the park

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The struggle against the Gilder Center has become a “monumental” battle.

without going through ULURP, the city broke the law —period,” Hiller stressed. Besides the museum’s allegedly flouting the law and the threat of losing public green space, the protesters were also concerned about the disruption the resulting construction would produce, the strain the new facility would put on nearby subway stations, and the erosion of history. “They don’t need to build out and capture the green space, disrupt the soil, disrupt the toxins in the ground, and, in particular, chop down these beautiful old, historic trees,” said Monica Boll, an Upper West Sider at the rally. “You cannot just go buy a whole new set and replant them once the expansion is done,” she said of the park’s magnificent old trees. But a representative, referring to the Dec. 10, 2018, ruling in the museum’s favor, said the American Museum of Natural History is confident it will win the case — and that the new center will be a positive addition for the museum and the city, in general. “In the lawsuit brought to stop the Gilder Center, by many of the same individuals that demonstrated on Saturday, the New York State Supreme Court ruled decisively in favor of the museum, finding that it had followed all the appropriate procedures and obtained all the required approvals,” the spokesperson said. “The inherent value of this project is reflected in the broad public support it has received from numerous elected officials, neighborhood groups and advocacy organizations. We have every expectation that the Appellate Court will affirm the [State] Supreme Court decision.” Februar y 7 - Februar y 20, 2019

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Police Blotter 20th Precinct

She cleaned up A woman hired to clean an Upper West Side apartment cleaned up with $3,225 worth of clothing on Jan 27. According to police, the owner of the apartment at 137 W. 71st St. had a membership with Handy, an online marketplace for residential cleaning and handyman services. The victim left the cleaning woman alone in her apartment at 10:30 a.m. and when she returned at 4 p.m. discovered her home in disarray and the cleaning woman gone. She told officers from the 20th Precinct that two expensive winter coats, a facial cream, sweatshirt, sweatpants, custom whiskey glass and a bottle of Kilchoman Scotch whiskey had been taken. Police are still searching for the swindling house cleaner.

Whiskey burglar

police said. A male victim, 62, said that while walking home, a man grabbed him from behind and put him in a chokehold. A second man then went in front of him. Both of the men went through the victim’s pockets and took items, including 13 Amex Reward cards, two credit cards, two MetroCards and other items. One of the muggers allegedly told the victim, “Shut up. If you talk, I’m going to kill you.” He also said, “What’s the pin? If it’s the wrong pin, I’ll kill you.” There has been one arrest in the case. Isiah McLaurin, 21, was arrested Jan. 30 for felony robbery.

A bottle of whiskey along with $500 was stolen from Caledonia bar, at 424 Amsterdam Ave., on Fri., Jan 25, at 4:42 a.m. According to police, an unidentified white man broke into the whiskey bar through the front door. The robber then went behind the counter and took money from the cash register. Before he fled, he then turned around and grabbed a bottle of whiskey for good measure. Police are unsure what kind he took. Cops are still looking for the thief. — Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Fashion victim

19th Precinct

There was a shoplifting incident at the Mackage clothing store at 814 Madison Ave., between E. 68th and E. 69th Sts., on Mon., Jan. 28, at 1:30 p.m., police said. An employee said three guys entered the place and asked for various

‘PIN, or I’ll kill you’ There was a robbery in front of 332 E. 88th St., between First and Second Aves., on Wed., Jan. 30, around 1 a.m.,

sizes of jackets. Two of the males then distracted the staff while the third took two jackets from a stand and went into a fitting room. When the guy emerged from the fitting room, he only had one jacket in his hand, which he put back on the stand. He then left the store. The jacket was a black and pink RENA women’s coat valued at $1,150.

Catalytic crime A woman reported the catalytic converter stolen from her car, according to a police report. The victim, 63, parked her 2005 Honda Element at E. 89th St. and York Ave., at 3 p.m. on Thurs., Jan. 24, she said. She returned to the car on Jan. 28 at 10:30 a.m., and saw the converter was taken. She said she was the victim of the same crime this past October, and said the converter’s value was $3,000. The case remains open.

— Gabe Herman

East Village cyclist, 72, killed in Midtown hit-and-run BY GABE HERMAN

A

senior cyclist from the East Village died Monday after being struck by a hit-and-run truck driver in Midtown, according to police. The rider was identified as Joseph Chiam, 72, of 127 First Ave., between E. Seventh St. and St. Mark’s Place. At 5:52 a.m., on Feb. 4, police responded to a 911 call and found Chiam lying on the ground at W. 45th St. and Eighth Ave. He was conscious and with trauma reported to his body. He was next to his bike, which was mangled from the collision. Chiam was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officials said that a 2013 green Western Star truck was headed north on Eighth Ave., then turned left onto W. 45th St. when it hit Chiam. He was reportedly riding his bike in the bicycle lane before the accident. The driver left the scene after the collision. Police have reportedly identified the driver but have not yet released that information. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted later that morning about the fatality, calling it “horrific.” “This is horrific, and this can’t keep happening,” he posted. “We have SO MUCH MORE work to do to protect cyclists and pedestrians in our city. My heart breaks for this man and his loved ones. What a senseless loss.”

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A police officer taking away the victim’s mangled bike from the scene.

tions. Such intersections guard cyclists against drivers by creating buffer zones and clearly marking waiting areas for bikes and pedestrians. But Midtown intersections like the one at 45th St. and Eighth Ave. have “mixing zones,” where all travelers merge together. “While the city has piloted protected intersections at a handful of sites citywide, and found them remarkably successful, their installation has not continued and the vast majority of intersections remain unprotected,” McDermott said.

Traffic fatalities have dropped in the city for five straight years. Last year, Manhattan had a record-low 27 deaths, compared to 45 the previous year. But Transportation Alternatives noted after this tragedy that there have already been at least four cyclist deaths in the city to date this year in just slightly more than one month. Ellen McDermott, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement that Chiam’s death was preventable, and that Midtown bike lanes should continue into protected intersecMEX

“More and more people are traveling by bike in our city,” the advocate said, “and more than ever, they need safe, protected space.” McDermott called for accelerated installments of protected bike lanes and intersections in the city. “Fixing these problems could have prevented Monday’s fatal hit-and-run,” she said, “but instead the cycling community suffers preventable tragedy.” She repeated the organization’s call for designating a “bike mayor” to represent cyclists’ interests at City Hall. Schneps Media


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Februar y 7 - Februar y 20, 2019

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PHOTO BY MILO HESS

A massive crane collapsed in Tribeca, killing one person, in early 2016 after it was improperly secured in high winds.

Report: City does very few required work-site checks BY GABE HERMAN

A

n audit by City Comptroller Scott Stringer of the Department of Building’s inspection methods for construction sites found inadequate oversight in several key areas. According to Stringer’s office, the audit revealed that “despite a history of inadequate oversight amid multiple construction accidents — D.O.B. could not show that its supervisors performed most of the quality-assurance (QA) reviews of inspections that its own policies require, and a significant number of the reviews that were done did not meet D.O.B.’s own written standards.” The audit was done over an 18-month period from July 2016 through December 2017. The report was released in late December 2018. D.O.B. monitors the city’s 40,000 construction sites and more than 1 million buildings. In assessing D.O.B.’s quality-assurance methods, the audit found that GPS reviews, which verify inspectors are actually at the sites they are assigned to inspect, were performed only six out of the required 427 times, or less than 1.5 percent of the time. The audit also said just 31 percent of required review and training inspections were performed, where a supervisor accompanies an inspector at a site or returns later to recheck the inspector’s work.

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tors had passed practical exams, when in fact no such inspections or exams had been conducted. The charges were not related to the E. 91st St. collapse. As for the deadly crane collapse in Tribeca in 2016, D.O.B. investigated and found that crane operator was at fault for failing to batten down the machine on the night before the accident, and then lowering its main boom down at an improper angle on an extremely windy day. Stringer’s audit does not accuse D.O.B. of widespread corruption, or say that inadequate inspections are directly leading to accidents or dangerous conditions. But Stringer’s office said, in a statement, “These oversight failures compromise D.O.B.’s ability to identify weaknesses or nonconformance with D.O.B. policies and to take appropriate measures when issues or concerns are identified, potentially putting New Yorkers’ safety at risk.” In a statement about the audit results, Stringer said, in part, “The Department of Buildings has absolutely no excuse for not following its own policies, especially after a history of dangerous accidents under its watch. The agency should be operating with the best possible practices to prevent a potential disaster rather than skirting its own policies.” The audit made 13 recommendations for the DOB to follow, which include more regular inspections and thorough

And D.O.B. reportedly did no reviews of its supervisors during the audit span, despite the department’s own requirements that 190 reviews should have been done during those 18 months. Recent construction accidents in the city have included a 2016 crane collapse in Lower Manhattan that killed one and injured three. In March 2008, a crane collapse in Midtown killed seven people. A May 2008 crane collapse on the Upper East Side killed two people. Multiple D.O.B. officials have been accused of corruption and bribery in the last decade related to inspections, including in 2008, 2015 and 2017. Investigations into the two crane collapses in 2008 mentioned above found malfeasance on D.O.B.’s part played a role in the disasters. In the March 15, 2008, collapse, at E. 51st St., it was found that a D.O.B. inspector had falsified his route sheet and falsely claimed to have inspected the crane 11 days before the accident. The inspector was convicted of falsifying records and “a pattern of practice” of representing that he was at places where he was not. Two months after another crane collapse, in May 30, 2008, on E. 91st St., D.O.B.’s assistant chief of its cranes and derricks unit, James Delayo, was arrested for collecting bribes over an eight-year period in exchange for falsely reporting that a crane company’s mobile cranes had been inspected and that its operaMEX

compiling of inspection results for review. The audit report includes responses from D.O.B., which disagreed with most of the audit’s findings and recommendations. D.O.B. argued that the department was updating its inspection methods, and that other audit recommendations related to recordkeeping were being addressed through its online portal, DOB NOW. D.O.B. Commissioner Rick Chandler furthermore disputed that safety was jeopardized by the department’s methods. “We agree, however, that our process can always be improved,” he said, “and we will continue working to strengthen them.” D.O.B. told the comptroller’s office that the inspection methods discussed in the audit were “obsolete and being phased out.” But the audit said these were the rules in place at the time of the audit, and that D.O.B. did not say during the audit that its process was changing. Stringer’s office also said that D.O.B. has not given details about new rules or processes it may be developing or using. The audit said the only change D.O.B. mentioned during the audit was its transition to posting inspection results in its online portal. As a result, the audit report said, “Thus, we find D.O.B.’s claims regarding its current practices unpersuasive.” Schneps Media


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PRESENTING THE JOAN H. AND PRESTON ROBERT TISCH CENTER AT ESSEX CROSSING Just like you, we think of downtown as our home, too. After all, we’ve been part of the scene for almost 190 years. Now, we’ve opened the Joan H. and Preston Robert Tisch Center at Essex Crossing. Here, you can receive world-class care in specialties that include internal medicine, cardiology, orthopedics, foot and ankle care, sports health, and physical therapy. At this location, we even provide a state-of-the-art operating room dedicated to orthopedic procedures. To see an NYU Langone specialist, call 929-455-2600, or make an appointment online at nyulangone.org/essexcrossing.

Joan H. and Preston Robert Tisch Center at Essex Crossing 171 Delancey Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10002

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Gansevoor t Peninsula, on the Village water front bet ween Gansevoor t and Little W. 12th Sts., is finally set to be redeveloped into a park. Photo by Max Guliani, cour tesy Hudson River Park Trust

Designer picked for park (with beach) at Gansevoort BY GABE HERMAN Updated Sat., Feb. 2, 7 p.m.:The public park will be the biggest green space in the 4.5-mile-long Hudson River Park, according to the Trust. Construction is planned to start in 2020, with the park on Gansevoort opening in 2022. It will be a $60 million project. Features of the park will include a “resilient beachfront” along the peninsula’s southern edge, which will serve as a barrier against storm surges and flooding. Unfortunately for summer beachgoers and those in the Polar Bear Club, the beach will probably not include access for swimming. It will, however, be used for educational programs by the Estuary Lab, which holds many classes and events and had 30,000 participants just last year. Madelyn Wils, president and C.E.O. of the Trust, said Gansevoort’s design will be on caliber with that of the rest of the park, which last year celebrated its 20th anniversary. “I’m pleased that the exceptional design firm James Corner Field Operations will join the ranks of the talented teams that have helped make Hudson River Park one of the great waterfront parks in the country,” she said. James Corner, founding partner and C.E.O. of the firm, said, “We are

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Februar y 7 - Februar y 20, 2019

Gansevoor t Peninsula, on the Village water front bet ween Gansevoor t and Little W. 12th Sts., is finally set to be redeveloped into a park. Photo by Max Guliani, cour tesy Hudson River Park Trust

thrilled to be selected to work with H.R.P.T. and the surrounding community to create a design for Gansevoort Peninsula — an incredible site that will integrate art, nature and recreation to become a signature gathering place for New Yorkers.” Corner’s firm has also worked on other high-profile projects in the city, including the High Line and Domino Park in Brooklyn.

Gansevoort Peninsula’s beach area is also earmarked to include an art piece sponsored by the Whitney that will partially sit in the water. Called “Day’s End,” by local artist David Hammons, the piece “will outline the original Pier 52 shed at its original location and be one of the country’s largest public art installations,” according to the Whitney. The concept has also been likened to a “ghost pier.” MEX

The Trust and the architectural firm plan to get feedback on the designs for Gansevoort from local officials and Community Board 2, along with hosting workshops to hear from community members, before final designs are made. Correction: The original version of this article misstated the cost of developing a park on Gansevoort Peninsula. The correct cost is $60 million. Schneps Media


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Trump spurred new V.I.D. prez to join club BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

T

here’s new blood in the Village Independent Democrats. After Donald Trump’s election in 2016, a wave of newly involved politicos started activist groups, joined Democratic clubs, and began a surge of political involvement during the “off years” between campaigns when attention typically wanes. David Siffert, 34, the new V.I.D. president, was a part of that wave. Just after the presidential election, he and his friends held meetings in his one-bedroom East Village apartment to work on actions, like sending postcards to local politicians. These grassroots meetings had a similar feeling to those of the new Indivisible Project. Though initial involvement faded out, Siffert and others had an idea for creating an activist-oriented app. That, in turn, led him to Ben Yee, a candidate for New York City public advocate and state committeeman for the 66th Assembly District. The app never got off the ground, but soon afterward, in spring 2017, Siffert joined V.I.D. He was elected president of the club last December with the support of 39 of the 42 members who voted. “Like many people, post-Trump’s election, I realized that I needed to be doing more,” Siffert told The Villager.

PHOTO COURTESY V.I.D.

Members of the Village Independent Democrats traveled up to Albany to lobby in the state Legislature on Jan. 15 as par t of the True Blue NY effor t. David Siffer t, V.I.D.’s new president, is third from right. Others include from left, Sara Kimbell and Liv v y Mann, as well as Jonathan Geballe, four th from left, and former V.I.D. President Tony Hoffmann, second from right.

He was speaking while en route to Albany with True Blue NY, a grassroots group that supported candidates running against Independent Democratic Caucus-aligned incumbents in the state Senate. By day, Siffert works as a research coordinator at New York University’s School of Law’s Center on Civil Justice.

“We’re a small center, so a lot of our projects are attempts to make information available to others,” Siffert said. “The idea is to try to figure out what’s not working in the civil justice system and how to make it better. “The way I put it, I’m a lot more interested in what the law should be rather than what the law actually says,” he said.

Siffert grew up Uptown in Morningside Heights and has lived in the Village now for about 12 years. Though the Trump election solidified his political involvement, Siffert has always been engaged in politics in some way or another. When he was 16, he interned for Senator Chuck Schumer, and four years later, worked on John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004. Before working at the Center on Civil Justice, the N.Y.U. School of Law alum previously worked as a civil litigator for Boies Schiller Flexner LLP and clerked for various state and federal judges. Siffert doesn’t have any major new plans for the storied progressive club — he says it’s already an amazing club as is. But he would like to expand specific political actions, like postcard writing or busing up to Albany like the club’s recent effort with True Blue NY. “An important way of keeping traditional Democratic clubs relevant in 2019 and beyond is to take a page from what a lot of activist organizations are doing and actually do the work,” he said. “It’s the way forward for clubs to maintain real relevance,” he added. “I think a lot of the old-fashioned backroom stuff that clubs have done is somewhat unattractive to [newcomers]. … I think we as a club need to look at how best to actually be of help.”

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Ben Yee, Obama tech guru, chose to act locally BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

I

n a packed field for public advocate, Ben Yee, the Democratic state committeeman for the 66th Assembly District, is running on a platform inspired by his passion for civics education. Yee, 34, is also currently the secretary of the Manhattan Democratic Party. He kicked off his political career a decade ago as digital director for Obama’s first campaign in New York State. He said he was subsequently offered a job in the Obama administration in the Treasury Department. But he instead chose to work for the then-Democratic state Senate to build its technology infrastructure, like getting all the lawmakers on Facebook and building better Web sites. His current campaign manager, Al Benninghoff, convinced Yee to join the Manhattan Young Democrats and encourage young people to run for County Committee, plus make that process more digitally accessible. Democratic County Committee members are unpaid and tasked with nominating Democratic judicial candidates and candidates for special elections, among other things. Yee’s experience has resonated with some, even inspiring them to become politically involved through his civics workshops. The Village Independent Democrats and One Queens Indivisible have both endorsed Yee. In an interview with The Villager, Yee, a lifelong New Yorker, described why he believes he’s the only candidate with a real vision for the office of New York City public advocate. VILLAGER: Some folks at V.I.D., including the club’s recently elected president, David Siffert, credited you for getting them involved in the club after attending your civics workshops. Could you tell us about those workshops? YEE: I’ve been doing abbreviated versions of that talk for the last eight years about how the County Committee works. I started holding these workshops in the early days right after January 2017 when Trump was inaugurated. That interest obviously eventually tailed off. But the hundreds of people that I had trained and spoken to, many of them have gone out and joined the groups that I spoke of — such as Democratic clubs and Indivisible groups. That’s easily the most gratifying thing that I’ve done. I guess I did help get Barack Obama elected, which is pretty big. But it could be one of the highlights of my life having activated these hundreds and hundreds of people. How has running those workshops influenced your platformfor public advocate, which includes “civics for all,” a political 311 hotline, building community coalitions, and investigating entities like the Board of Elections?

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Ben Yee, the Village’s Democratic state committeeman, is running for the cit y wide office of public advocate.

seen the rate at which people will get engaged — or will at least start contacting their elected officials knowledgeably if you give them the information — has been incredibly impactful in driving me to make this part of what the government does. If we’re going to be living in a democracy, the people responsible for sustaining that democracy — which is our democratically elected government — should have the responsibility of ensuring that everybody understands how this works. These are programs for the public advocate’s office. They don’t require the public advocate to go to anybody else and ask for permission. That is a losing strategy, and to have a platform that is based on somebody else telling you that you can do something is not a program of public advocacy. What makes you stand out in this field? What do you tell voters who haven’t heard of you? I truly am the only candidate that has a vision for how to use the office as it is to improve the way that government

‘I truly am the only candidate with a vision for how to use the office.’ Ben Yee

Civics education is obviously one of the core tenets. Having taught the workshops and TVG

works for New Yorkers. I’ll walk them through the three programs and how an office like this, which is not the most powerful, could be used to improve the lives of New Yorkers. People find that very compelling honestly. It’s more than just, “I think this is a problem and this is a problem and this is a problem and I’m going to fight for it.” I have an explanation to get from where we are to where I think most New Yorkers agree we need to be. In this race, you’ve been considered an activist candidate. But you’re also very much a part of the Democratic Party institution in your role as state committeeman and the secretary of the Manhattan Democratic Party. Where do you see yourself in that bigger picture among progressives? I oftentimes like to describe myself as an outsider on the inside. But ultimately what it really comes down to is the new folks who are getting involved in politics — the Ocasio-Cortezes who have won the seats in Congress and what have you. I’m essentially like them, except I started doing it 10 years ago. My campaign manager [Benninghoff] is actually the guy who got me involved in local politics. It was after the Obama campaign, and he said, “Oh, come join Manhattan Young Democrats and be my vice president.” And I said, “No way, that sounds really boring and hackey.” I said I was just on a national campaign. I was the digital director for the entire state. I did all the data, all the tech — I could do something bigger probably. And eventually, and I’ll never forget this conversation, he said, “Don’t you want to keep the change that Obama promised going?” So, in that regard…there was no fanfare in this work. It’s not running for Congress and beating Joe Crowley. But, for what it was, it was the exact sort of impetus and energy and spirit. And I maintain that spirit to this day. I continue to be an independent voice in the party for my voters, and really for the idea of democracy as a whole. I’m really into democracy. I don’t know if that comes across, but I am. Yes, it definitely comes across. What made local politics so appealing, particularly assuming you could have gone to work in Washington, D.C.? I was offered a job in D.C. in Treasury. I didn’t go to Washington to join the administration because, even though that is important work, there’s only so many people who will stay and do the local thing. And I don’t know what my life would’ve been like if I had gone to Washington. But I can certainly say that I’m happy with what I’ve done and what I’ve been able to accomplish here. This interview has been edited for clarity and length. Februar y 7, 2019

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Letters to the Editor

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Only way Johnson wins

makers out there who care about facts.

To The Editor: Re “Johnson mulls ‘people-powered mayoral run’” (news article, Jan. 31): What would be a game changer for Johnson to win the mayor’s race? Do what every past City Council speaker refused to do —stand up to the Real Estate Board of New York and pass legislation to save the city’s small businesses and jobs. Every past Council speaker has joined in the rigging of the system to stop any legislation that would give rights to small business owners when their leases expire. Every speaker lost big running for mayor because they could not get the city’s immigrant community votes. Why? Because ethnic immigrant families own the majority of small businesses and create the vast majority of jobs for resident New Yorkers. Without the ethnic vote, the young white gay guy from the Village and Chelsea follows past speakers and can’t win. Pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act.

Rob Buchanan Buchanan is coordinator, Citizens Water Quality Testing Program

Steve Barrison Barrison is executive vice president and spokesperson, Small Business Congress of New York City

Gansevoort’s good to swim

Covering Manhattan in more ways than one

To The Editor: Last Friday’s New York Post article on the beach at Gansevoort that the Hudson River Park Trust now says it is going to build (no swimming, though!) claims that the Citizens Water Quality Testing Program “routinely finds unacceptable levels of fecal bacteria in the waters off Manhattan’s West Side.” I just want to assure everyone that, in fact, we routinely find the exact opposite — that the water in the park meets Department of Health bathing-beach swim standards the vast majority of the time, and certainly more often than many of the “official” beaches listed on the D.O.H. Web site. Please familiarize yourself with our seven years of data. Because, hey, there may still be a few decision

SOUND OFF! PRINT DIGITAL EVENTS 14

Februar y 7, 2019

PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER VICTORIA SCHNEPS-YUNIS

CONTRIBUTORS IRA BLUTREICH BOB KRASNER TEQUILA MINSKY MARY REINHOLZ PAUL SCHINDLER ART DIRECTORS JOHN NAPOLI MARCOS RAMOS

CEO & CO-PUBLISHER JOSHUA SCHNEPS

ADVERTISING CLIFFORD LUSTER (718) 260-2504 CLUSTER@CNGLOCAL.COM

EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON

CIRCULATION SALES MNGR. MARVIN ROCK TVG

To The Editor: Re “Just don’t hit me!” (letter, by Sylvia Rackow, Jan. 24): Don’t hit you, Sylvia Rackow? O.K., I won’t. But nearly 200 people were killed by cars in New York City last year, and precisely zero by bicycles. Bill Weinberg

Clean up your act, M.T.A.! To The Editor: Re “Subway death highlights need for more elevators” (thevillager.com, news article, Feb. 1): Why does someone always have to die before New York City takes responsibility for its citizens? The M.T.A. has been in deep financial trouble way too long. The governor is right to insist that it clean up its act. Charging cab riders an extra $2.50 per ride to pay for safe elevators is not the answer. Don’t make the public pay for your mismanagement, M.T.A.! Kathleen McGee Treat E-mail letters, maximum 250 words, to news@ thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

Write a letter to the editor news@thevillager.com

REPORTER GABE HERMAN

Publisher of The Villager, Villager Express, Chelsea Now, Downtown Express and Manhattan Express

PUT it in perspective

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES GAYLE GREENBURG JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO ELIZABETH POLLY PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by Schneps Media One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2019 Schneps Media

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People

Performance was reality at an L.E.S. wedding BY BOB KR ASNER

P

erformance art, as defined by Google: “An art form that combines visual art with dramatic performance.” How perfect, then, that Scooter LaForge’s closing party for his solo show at Empirical Nonsense featured an actual wedding in front of his painting “Genesis, Day 6.” After performance-art pieces — arranged by LaForge — by Jorge Clar and Helixx C.Armageddon, it was announced that Stanley Love and his dance troupe would not be performing as scheduled. Instead, the surprised crowd got the newly ordained Tracy Mendez uniting Emily Maple and Steven Freed in holy matrimony. Vows were exchanged, the bouquet was tossed and cake was had by all. Art lovers turned to each other and asked,“Was that for real?” The bride and groom, wearing limited-edition “I Just Came Here Looking For a Husband/Wife” T-shirts created by their artist friend Ayana Evans, assured everyone that it was. The pair — who are clinical psychologists — are looking forward to a more traditional family affair in Grand Cayman. But it will be hard to beat the uniqueness of getting hitched in a Lower East Side storefront art gallery on Rivington St. Despite the fact that Maple and Freed did not know most of the nuptial witnesses, they knew it was an exceptional event. “It was a really special day,” said the bride.“We felt very loved.”

PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER

Emily Maple and Steve Freed kiss at their wedding at Empirical Nonsense Galler y on the Lower East Side last month. At right, officiant Trac y Mendez applauds. Crouching on floor in black cap with beard is ar tist Scooter LaForge.

From left, officiant Tracy Mendez, Emily Maple and Steve Freed after Maple and Freed’s wedding at Empirical Nonsense gallery on Rivington St. Schneps Media

Emily Maple throws the bouquet after her wedding at Empirical Nonsense galler y. Her T-shir t is by per formance ar tist Ayana Evans. MEX

Februar y 7 - Februar y 20, 2019

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Transportation

Subway death highlights need for more elevators BY GABE HERMAN

A

young mother’s death in a Midtown subway station while carrying her baby’s stroller down stairs has once again tragically spotlighted the lack of elevators and access in many stations citywide. On the evening of Mon., Jan. 28, Malaysia Goodson, 22, died after falling in the Seventh Ave. “B/D/E” station, at W. 53rd St., which does not have elevator access. Police responded to the scene at 8 p.m. and found Goodson, who was from Stamford, CT, unconscious and unresponsive on the platform. Her 1-year-old daughter was found conscious and without serious injuries, and was treated by E.M.S. at the scene. Goodson was taken to Mt. Sinai West, where she was pronounced dead. Officials said an investigation is ongoing into the incident and cause of death. Two days later, on Wednesday evening, the city medical examiner said the woman’s cause of death was still uncertain but there were initial signs that a preexisting medical condition may have caused the fall. A GoFundMe online fundraiser has been set up for the infant girl, Rhylee, which will go toward an education fund for her. In the first three days, more than $20,000 had been raised from 632 donors. The tragic incident has started a new round of coverage and outrage over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s lack of elevators in its stations. Currently, about only one-quarter of the city’s 472 stations have elevators. After the incident, Mayor de Blasio tweeted, “This is a heartbreaking tragedy that never should have hap-

Malaysia Goodson and her 1-year-old daughter Rhylee in a photo on Rhylee’s GoFundMe fundraiser page. Goodson died in a Midtown Manhattan subway station on Jan. 28 when she fell down the stairs while carr ying Ryhlee’s stroller.

pened. The subway system is not accessible for everyone and that’s an environment the M.T.A. should not allow.” In a statement, the M.T.A. said, in part, “This is an

absolutely heartbreaking incident. While the ultimate cause of the event is being investigated by the M.T.A., medical examiner and the N.Y.P.D., we know how important it is to improve accessibility in our system.” The M.T.A. went on to say that accessibility is a priority in its Fast Forward Plan, and plans to add “up to 50 elevators over the next five years.” “We believe this is an important issue of practicality and equality, and once accomplished, riders will never be more than two stops away from a station with an elevator,” the authority said. The advocacy group Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York rallied on Wednesday outside the Seventh Ave. subway station. CIDNY said on Twitter that it has called for greater accessibility in the transit system since 1979. CIDNY tweeted, “We’re holding a moment of silence in honor of Malaysia Goodson, then calling on Governor Cuomo to make NYC transit accessible for all.” After a Wed., Jan. 30 Senate Transportation Committee hearing in Albany, state Senator Brad Holyman expressed outrage that the station lacked an elevator in the first place. “At my urging, the M.T.A. has committed to looking into making accessibility improvements at the station where Malaysia Goodson died in my district,” Hoylman said in a statement. “As a parent who navigates our city’s subways with a stroller, I understand the urgency firsthand. It is unacceptable that a heavily trafficked station in Midtown Manhattan would lack a functioning elevator, and I’ll be counting the days until this project is completed. We can’t afford to wait.”

28th St. station blooms back open with mosaics BY GABE HERMAN

T

he 28th St. subway station on the 6 line reopened on Jan. 14 with new colorful artwork and several updated amenities. The station closed last July and was originally scheduled to reopen in December, but that was pushed back a month. The station, which is on Park Ave. South, now features mosaic tilework by Miotto Mosaic Art Studios, made from art by Nancy Blum, a Brooklyn-based artist. The art is called “Roaming Underfoot” and features seven different flowers and plants based on the perennial collection of the nearby Madison Square Park Conservancy, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Arts and Design. The foliage types include magnolias, daffodils, witch hazel, hydrangea, camellia, red buds and hellebores. “Each is suited to the changing climate conditions of the city,” said a Jan. 15 Instagram post by M.T.A. Arts and Design. “Similar to a glorious garden,

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Februar y 7, 2019

PHOTO BY MTA ARTS AND DESIGN

New tile mosaic ar twork adorns the No. 6 subway station at E. 28th St. and Park Ave. South.

permanently installed at the beautifully renovated 28th St. station.” Blum’s art is also featured at the Dobbs Ferry Metro North station, which has several flower mosaics that were also done by Miotto Mosaic Art Studios. The M.T.A. said the E. 28th St. sta-

the larger-than-life underground flowers create a delightful space in every season,” continued the flowery description. Artist Nancy Blum shared her excitement about the station’s new art, writing in a Jan. 15 Facebook post, “So happy that mosaics of my work are TVG

tion, which is one of the system’s oldest going back to the early 20th century, was in disrepair and that fully closing it would be faster for finishing the needed work. “We have had great success with these projects in terms of how much work can be done in a short span of time when construction crews have total round-the-clock access,” Andy Byford, president of NYC Transit, said last year about the station and two others in Manhattan that were also temporarily closed for work. “We thank customers for their patience as we make these repairs and improvements, which will bring practical benefits to our customers for many decades.” The newly opened station now includes countdown clocks, digital signage with real-time information, brighter and more energy-efficient lights, and new seating. The turnstile areas have new glass barriers and security cameras. And the bright and colorful flower mosaics make the station more cheery and serve as a hopeful reminder that spring will be here eventually. Schneps Media


          



            

   

                

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A.G. James sues Trump E.P.A. over smog power plants are needed for upwind states to meet their Good Neighbor Provision obligations. However, James’s office, in a statement, said, in part, “Smog’s serious, ongoing health threat in New York is largely due to the interstate transport of smog pollution.” The lawsuit asks the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit to vacate the rule. The A.G. is challenging the “close-out” decision as “unlawful, arbitrary and capricious.” Joining James on the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey. New York City is also a plaintiff on the litigation. Last year, New York and Connecticut sued to require the E.P.A. to implement plans to cut smog from upwind states impacting their air quality, including Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. According to an E.P.A. spokesperson, the agency is declining comment due to the litigation.

BY ALEJANDR A O’CONNELL-DOMENECH

S

tate Attorney General Letitia James announced she had filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency to continue combating air pollution. “Over two-thirds of New Yorkers regularly breathe unhealthy air due to smog pollution,” James said. “Yet, Trump’s E.P.A. is ignoring the Clean Air Act and refuses to require reductions in the pollution largely responsible for this serious public health risk.” The part of the Clean Air Act that is being ignored, according to James, is the “Good Neighbor” provision. This requires the E.P.A. to step in and reduce the flow of interstate air pollution from “upwind” states to their “downwind” neighbors, so that the latter can maintain federal air-quality standards. Last year, Trump’s E.P.A. decided on a “close-out” on the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, claiming that no further emissions reductions from

Letitia James, the New York State attorney general. SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS

Flushing Bank Hosts Grand Opening Reception for New Chinatown Location Flushing Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: FFIC), the parent holding company for Flushing Bank opened a new branch in Chinatown on January 23rd and hosted a Grand Opening Reception at the Canton Lounge in Chinatown to celebrate its newest location at 183 Canal Street, New York, NY. John R. Buran, President and CEO of Flushing Bank, stated: “Our Grand Opening reception was well attended by community leaders, real estate developers, business owners, and professionals from the Chinatown market. We have a long-standing relationship with the Asian community and this Chinatown location is a natural extension of our business footprint. Over the years, we have supported numerous local community, cultural, and charitable organizations through financial sponsorships and employee participation. To demonstrate our commitment to this community, we presented a check to the Chinatown Partnership at our reception. As a community bank, we believe it is important to staff our

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Februar y 7, 2019

J_fne`ek_\g_fkf]ifdc\]kkfi`^_k 18cXeC`#Af_eJk\nXik#B\eep?lf#Af_e9liXe#Gi`jZ`ccX=l#Af_eJ`l#<cX`e\?f#<cc`jCXd#D`b\9`e^fc[ branches with employees who reflect and understand the culture and speak the language of its residents. Our employees speak over 20 languages with Cantonese and Mandarin being prevalent in

the Chinese markets we serve. This full-service branch features our customer-centric Universal Banker model with Assisted Service Kiosk (ASK) and Video Banker services. This highly-efTVG

ficient model gives customers the flexibility to choose a self-service option for everyday transactions or to interact with a Universal Banker for more complex financial transactions or problem

resolution. Our Video Banker service extends the engagement by connecting customers, faceto-face, with bankers through a video-chat platform from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.”

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Health

New M.S.B.I. program helps opioid OD survivors BY GABE HERMAN

T

he city announced in late December that it would expand a counseling program that combats opioid abuse to Mt. Sinai Beth Israel. The hospital, currently located at 281 First Ave., between 16th and 17th Sts., across from Stuyvesant Town, is the programâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first location in Downtown Manhattan. Called Relay, the program provides a trained counselor to opioid overdose survivors while they are still in the hospital. The individual is given training and counseling about reducing the risk of future overdoses, along with an overdose prevention kit that includes naloxone, a drug that treats emergency overdoses. Relay is now available at seven hospitals in the city. The program is available 24/7 to participating hospitals, and counselors stay in touch with survivors for up to 90 days. Opioid overdose survivors are two to three times more likely to die from another overdose than a drug user who has never overdosed, the city said. A Wellness Advocate in Relayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s program, Kimberly Howard, said at the time of the Dec. 18 announcement, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Being there when someone wakes up from a nonfatal overdose to provide not just a naloxone kit â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the same thing that saved their life â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but also support and acceptance, is why Relay is so impactful.â&#x20AC;? Dr. Ethan Cowan, director of research and community engagement and associate professor of emergency medicine at Mount Sinaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Icahn School of Medicine, said the program is a welcome addition. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The emergency department staff at Mount Sinai Beth Israel is excited to be participating in this important program,â&#x20AC;? Cowan said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We look forward to including the wellness advocates as a part of our team and hope to be part of the solution to the ever-increasing number of opioid overdose deaths in New York City.â&#x20AC;? Relay is part of Healing NYC, a program launched in 2017 by Mayor de Blasio and Chirlane McCray to reduce fatal opioid overdoses, which account for 80 percent of total fatal ODâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s citywide. There were 1,487 overdose deaths in the city in 2017, according to city data, a record high and a 2 percent increase from 2016. Overdose deaths skyrocketed by 50 percent from 2015 to 2016 citywide. In 2017, 225 â&#x20AC;&#x201D; or 15 percent â&#x20AC;&#x201D; of the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fatal overdose cases were Manhattan residents. In October, the city announced there were 694 fatal overdoses in the first half of 2018, a slower pace than 2017â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s total but still considered to be at an epidemic level. During the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opioid epidemic in recent years, drug overdoses have killed more New Yorkers than homicides, suicides and vehicle crashes combined, acSchneps Media

Par ticipants in the Relay program are given naloxone-injection kits, like the one above, that can save a life in the event of an opioid overdose.

VILL AGE APOTHECARY

cording to the Department of Health. The Relay program also recently expanded to Jamaica Hospital in Queens and, as of last month, to the BronxCare Health System. And naloxone is now widely available throughout the city, including at big-chain pharmacies and more than 600 independent pharmacies. Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said the new program gives patients targeted help for their needs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When an overdose survivor meets a Relay Wellness Advocate who has lived experience with substance use, it often makes the survivor more receptive to engaging in services,â&#x20AC;? Barbot said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Whether itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a naloxone training or support connecting to treatment for opioid use, we are committed to meeting our patients where they are at. We are thrilled to expand Relay to Queens for the first time at Jamaica Hospital and to Mount Sinai Beth Israel in Manhattan, which has an impressive history of substance-use treatment.â&#x20AC;? The Relay program started in June 2017, and from then until November 2018, it has worked with 620 overdose survivors and distributed 913 naloxone kits. The city said it plans to expand the program to 15 hospitals by 2020.

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Scoopy’s Notebook HELLO FROM ATLANTIC CITY: Jessica Berk may have given up on us — but, no, we haven’t forgotten about her. She gave us the first report after she left her longtime Christopher St. home a couple of months ago. But we’re here to say that she sounds like she’s happy in Atlantic City, where she has bought a place, thanks to the buyout she and her late mom Ruth got after years of battling their landlord. Berk said that, before she vacated their coveted penthouse apartment and the Village, she gave a lot of her mother’s stuff to Housing Works on W. 10th St., including numerous sets of tableware. Her mom had tons of things left over from when she was the cabaret singer at the Hotel Earle and her husband ran

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Februar y 7, 2019

the club. So, if you recently bought plates at Housing Works, they may well be part of the signature “Christopher St. Vigilante Collection.” When we spoke to Berk a while back, she said she was enjoying the well-policed boardwalk out in A.C., but that, never fear, she would be back in the Village from time to time, especially whenever she has to do something on her lawsuit against the Sixth Precinct. And, of course, she would be doing a volunteer civilian patrol of the streets to make sure no homeless people are getting too comfortable out there — in the subfreezing weather. LEAKED ‘L’ MEMO: More than a month has passed

since Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Jan. 3 that the L train would only need a partial shutdown for repairs, but there still has been no official word on the fate of the so-called alternative service plans from either the Metropolitan Transportation Authority or the city’s Department of Transportation. Despite that, a draft M.T.A. memo titled “Potential L Tunnel Weekend and Late Night Service Plan With One-Track Closure” published in part by Streetsblog on Jan. 23 could possibly give some insight into what the updated “A.S.P.” might look like. One of the most notable proposals would be the elimination of the 14th St. “busway” from the plans. In fact, under the plans outlined by the memo, the only new change in bus service on 14th St. would be additional M14 buses on weekends to reduce wait times from 12 to 10 minutes. However, this should not be seen as a done deal in any way. The M.T.A. later said in a statement to Streetsblog that it still is working on the alternative service plan and slammed Streetsblog as “irresponsible” for publishing “drafts and outdated reports.” As for the community lawsuit filed against the original alternative service plan, Village attorney Arthur Schwartz said the litigation is continuing after unsuccessful talks with the M.T.A. and D.O.T. “I made a proposal to drop the case if they would agree to not take any further action until they produced data supporting their proposal and did appropriate consultation with the community,” Schwartz said in an interview shortly after a phone call with representatives from both agencies on Jan. 31. “And they said, ‘No.’ ” As a result, a court date has been set for Feb. 21 in the ongoing litigation. Schwartz feels it’s necessary to keep the suit active right now or else the busway would be implemented immediately without further community feedback. When asked about Schwartz’s claims, a D.O.T. representative said, “Modifications to the alternate service plan are underway with the same objectives as before — to provide good transportation alternatives for every affected customer and to reflect the public input we’ve received and will continue to seek before and after the tunnel construction is underway. We are meeting with elected officials and advocates very soon and will have more to share at that time.” The M.T.A. could not immediately be reached for comment. WATCH OUT, ‘ROCKY’: Almost a month ago, community activist Christopher Marte, the male State Democratic Committee member from the 65th Assembly District(Lower East Side and tip of Manhattan) decided to start training for the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid, which will occur in July. The triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles of biking and a full 26-mile marathon. Athletes from around the world test their mettle at this popular Ironman, the second oldest in North America. Swimmers begin stroking across Mirror Lake at 6:30 a.m., followed by a demanding bike ride through the Adirondack Mountains, and ending with a full marathon through the mountains and Lake Placid’s downtown, ending at the Olympic skating oval. Marte registered at the Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, at Varick and Clarkson Sts., a couple of Sundays ago, in order to start using its pool. Membership is just $75 per half-year, seniors pay $25. His training also includes running three times a week from his Lower East Side home across the Williamsburg Bridge, and back over the Brooklyn Bridge, a 5-mile run. Good luck with your training, Chris!

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER

Scooter LaForge in his East Village studio working with an unusual brush.

Scooter LaForge paid his dues, kept on painting BY BOB KR ASNER

A

rtist Scooter LaForge moved to New York from San Francisco in 2001, one month after 9/11. Much of the evolution of his art is the result of two things: art critic/educator Peter Schjedahl and New York City itself. After college in Tucson, LaForge spent 10 years making art — and working various odd jobs — in San Francisco. He then made the move to New York City, where he was accepted at The Cooper Union. It was there that he studied with Schjedahl, who gave him the marching orders that freed him from his self-imposed limitations. “In San Francisco I was painting very small, with tiny brushes,” LaForge explained. “Schjedahl made me throw away those brushes and paint big.” It wasn’t easy for him at first, but he soon realized it was the right move. “Now I paint what I feel, rather than what I see,” he said. Meanwhile, he immediately fell in love with the city. “There is nothing like it anywhere,” he said. “The variety of people here, the personalities, the languages, the buildings! My scope of vision opened immensely.” He absorbed, among other things, what he called the “certain style of New York’s Abstract Expressionism,” as well as the pop art aesthetic of Claes Oldenburg. The result was a style that combined aggressive adult energy with naive, childlike subject matter and forays into sculpture and homoerotica. While getting his bearings in a new city where he knew no one, LaForge painted steadily while working a series of retail jobs. Starting at Earl Jean, he moved on to a successful stint at Marc Jacobs and then to Jimmy Choo, where he was their top salesperson. He worked on a number of Barney’s windows, as well, while slowly building momentum in

Schneps Media

Ar tist Scooter LaForge in his studio with works in progress.

the art world. After being shown in various group shows, bars and “anything that came along,” LaForge was given his first show, by the late, very lamented Hattie Hathaway (Brian Butterick), at the former Rapture Cafe, on Avenue A between 12th and 13th Sts. His first solo show at a gallery was at the Munch Gallery, formerly on Broome St., where he met Jane Friedman, the current executive director of the Howl! Happening gallery, at 6 E. First St., the location of his upcoming show. “We clicked immediately,” LaForge recalled. “I didn’t know anything about her, except that she loved my work. She is a huge champion of my work.” The artist is quick to recall others who have helped him along the way, such as Stephanie Theodore of the Theodore:Art gallery, on Bogart St. in Brooklyn, TVG

who has been selling his work for 10 years now. “I connected with him because he wasn’t trying to be anything but what he was,” Theodore said. “Candor is not the most fashionable thing to encounter in contemporary art.” LaForge noted that one of his biggest breaks came in 2006 when a blog called East Village Boys wrote him up, putting him “on the map.”It was around that time that he began selling silkscreened T-shirts at Patricia Field — for $10 each — when the eponymous store’s owner took notice. Field commissioned him to paint on hats, dresses and coats, beginning a partnership that continues to the present. He has collaborated with Field regularly for events that extend around the world. “We became close friends — like family,” LaForge said. His hand-painted garments have been seen on the likes of Madonna, Beyonce and Debbie Harry, butField’s shop is still the only place where one can buy them. His newest work— influenced by his travels to Tel Aviv, Greece and Italy — uses classical Greek motifs for the first time. The mural-sized pieces feel like a big leap for LaForge. But don’t expect the artist to spell it all out for you. “I want people to look at the paintings and take away what they see, not what I tell them to see,” he explained. Standing in his studio — surrounded by the largest canvases he has produced to date — LaForge mused on the nature of being an artist in New York City. “You don’t have overnight success in New York,” he said. “You have to pay your dues. You have to wait in a very long line, and no one gets to cut the line. He paused, then added, “After almost 20 years, I still feel new here.” Scooter LaForge unveils“Homo Eruptus” at the Howl! Happening gallery, at 6 E. First St., on Thurs., Feb. 14, Opening reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Februar y 7, 2019

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Arnold Schulman: Theater’s oldest comeback kid BY CL AUDE SOLNIK

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n the world of screenwriting, you might call Arnold Schulman a reallife Walter Mitty. The difference is he didn’t imagine his accomplishments. Schulman worked with Frank Capra, Elia Kazan, Alan Pakula, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Sir Richard Attenborough. And that’s just a start. Along the way, he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for “Love With the Proper Stranger” and Best Adapted Screenplay for “Goodbye, Columbus.” He also wrote the screenplay for the movie of “A Chorus Line” and “Tucker: The Man and His Dream,” as well as the teleplay for “And The Band Played On,” an early depiction of AIDS. Now Schulman, who also wrote for Broadway and live TV, is back, this time with a play opening in March. At age 93, Schulman may become the oldest (or among them) comeback kid in New York City theater when his “Sign in the Six O’Clock Sky” opens at Theater for the New City on March 14. It will run through March 31. “A screenplay is much easier. You can go from place to place and see it,” he said. “In theater, you have to talk about having gone to such a place. It’s harder to make the background not sound like exposition.” In that it’s a stage piece, “Sign in the Six O’Clock Sky” is a homecoming of sorts for Schulman. It’s a show about sideshow performers set in a kind of timeless twilight. “He’s 93 and he’s still writing plays,” said Shela Xoregos, who is directing. “It’s very different. That’s the interesting thing.” In a career that spanned 50 years, Schulman worked with actors such as Steve McQueen, Mary Martin, Anna Magnani and Frank Sinatra, as well as directors who have stars — more like supernovas — on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “Each one was completely different,” he said of the directors, before

mentioning one encounter on the set. “With ‘A Hole in the Head,’ my second picture, Frank Sinatra was notorious for improvising. Out of his respect for Capra, he said, ‘Can I say this line that way?’ Capra turned to me and said, ‘Is it O.K., Arnold?’ I said, ‘Of course.’” Schulman started writing — and finding success with words — when he was young. “I sold my first story when I was 9 to a boys’ magazine,” he said. “I sent it in, got published and got a Mickey Mouse watch. I thought I’d sit down and write things and get Mickey Mouse watches.” He studied writing at the University of North Carolina and enlisted in the Navy. “I was an aerial photographer at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Japan,” he said. “I see pictures taken of the war. Some of them could have been my shots.” When asked why he wanted to be-

Arnold Schulman on set with Anna Magnani and Anthony Quinn during the filming of “ Wild Is the Wind.” Schulman adapted the screenplay from the Italian film “Fur y.”

Arnold Schulman on set with Anna Magnani and Anthony Quinn during the filming of “ Wild Is the Wind.” Schulman adapted the screenplay from the Italian film “Fur y.”

come a playwright, Schulman couldn’t pinpoint an event or reason. “I was going through some old papers not long ago. I ran across my discharge papers from the Navy,” he recalled. “They said, ‘What do you plan to do?’ To my surprise, it said ‘playwright.’” After the war, he took a course at the American Theatre Wing with Robert Anderson, the author of “Tea and Sympathy,” “I Never Sang for My Father” and other plays. “I was so lucky,” he said. “I wrote for radio before television. Then I wrote for TV and wrote a new play and had an audience every week.” He went from radio to TV to Broadway, writing the book for “Jennie,” a

212 - 254 - 1109 | www.theaterforthenewcity.net | 155 First Ave. NY, NY 10003

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musical starring Mary Martin. He wrote “Wild is the Wind,” directed by George Kukor and produced by Hal Wallace, who produced “Casablanca.” Schulman remembers Frank Capra as almost out of a Frank Capra movie. “Frank Capra was what you’d expect him to be. Warm. The sweetest, lovely man,” Schulman said. “I expected him to have a mansion. I went to spend the weekend way down South with avocado trees. He had a small ranch house with a woman who was a cook. We sat down to dinner. She sat down with us. He lived a Frank Capra life.” Schulman got hired to do adaptations, including Philip Roth’s classic “Goodbye, Columbus.” Despite his successes, he found by the late 1990s, many people thought of him as part of the past. “The whole multinational corporation business,” Schulman said. “They have certain ideas that we can’t write for young people.” In his 90s, he seems to experience the joy of writing the way he always has. “What comes out of their mouth surprises me,” Schulman said of characters. “I write every day.” His latest work will see the light of stage at Theater for the New City, as he writes the next. “I would prefer if they get done. If they don’t, I’m having fun with the process of doing it,” he said. “I love writing.” “Sign in the Six O’Clock Sky,” March 14-31 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. Thursday to Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets $15 to $18. For more information, call 212254-1109 or visit theaterforthenewcity. net . For a 2011 interview of Arnold Schulman, click here . Schneps Media


Religious groups â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;soundâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; each other out, connect BY LESLEY SUSSMAN

I

tâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not every day that you walk into a synagogue and hear an imam reciting the Koran, a Tibetan Buddhist lama praying from a sacred text, and various Christian and other groups singing, chanting and performing other styles of spiritual music But that was exactly the case on the evening of Sun., Jan. 27, at the 10th Annual Spiritual Sounds concert at Town and Village Synagogue, at 334 E. 14th St. The annual event, which is held at different locations throughout the East Village, sees religious groups and their leaders gather to exhibit the sounds of their faiths and express love and respect for their neighbors and all people. Two hours fled by filled with tears, laughter and great music, along with expressions of awe and gratitude to the one creator and appreciation of each othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; faiths and ways of worship. Members and leaders from mainstream Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Episcopal, Eastern Orthodox and Latino Evangelical churches were present to participate in the program. But there were also spiritual divergents, including members of the East Village-based Catholic Worker movement. A nationwide community, the Catholic Workerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s goal is to make people aware of church teachings on social justice; the movement also provides a wide variety of social-service programs for disadvantaged people both locally and elsewhere. The program opened with a peaceful Sufi incantation and closed with gospel music fireworks from the choir of Middle Collegiate Church, at 112 Second Ave., that had the audience standing on its feet. In between, choirs from the Shul of New York, which holds shabbat services at Middle Collegiate, the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection, at 59 E. Second St., and the Town and Village Synagogue performed, along with an imam from the nearby Medina Masjid mosque, at 401 E. 11th St., and Lama Pema Dorje of the locally based Nechung Foundation, at 110 First Ave. Mixed in among the large turnout of locals and guests, there were some who came from as far away as Iran and Morocco.

PHOTOS BY LESLEY SUSSMAN

The Catholic Worker Chorus was working it at Spiritual Sounds.

of the Holy Virgin Protection, said the concert brings â&#x20AC;&#x153;understanding, unity and brotherhood to the East Village.â&#x20AC;? Imam Mohammad Yousuf, of the Medina Masjid Mosque, said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a great feeling being here. I feel very comfortable inside this synagogue among peo-

The event was adver tised on one of the cit yâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s LinkNYC WiFi kiosks.

The popular event is the creation of Anthony Donovan, who modestly passed the credit to Father Richard Walsh, a retired Catholic priest from Most Holy Redeemer Church. It was Donovan who, more than a decade ago, organized the Local Faiths Community, an ecumenical consortium of East Village religious leaders, all serving within a few blocks of each other. They came together to stand up to hate, prejudice and manipulations made in the name of religion, and to help and support each other in this effort. Donovan, who has no formal religious training, said ultimately the event is about building a feeling of â&#x20AC;&#x153;family.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;This to me is not about interfaith as much as itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s about getting to know your neighbors,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not the ones you wish you had, but the ones you have â&#x20AC;&#x201D; much like family.Each year we need this shining example more than ever.â&#x20AC;? This year Town and Village Synagogue hosted the event, and Rabbi Larry Sebert was its emcee. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is a spectacular evening for all of us,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For different faith communities to come together under one roof and one God is truly a blessing.â&#x20AC;? The Right Reverend Father Christopher Calin, of the Orthodox Cathedral

ple of all religions.â&#x20AC;? Lama Dorje told the gathering, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m here to show kindness to others. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s live together and not build a wall for other people. I hope the spirit of this concert will carry us all through the year.â&#x20AC;?

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E\nCXnKf8ccfnM`Zk`dj F]:_`c[J\olXc8Ylj\ KfJl\=fi;XdX^\j A new law passed by the New York State Legislature which Governor Cuomo supports, “The Child Victims Act,” will allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to recover damages in a court of law. The bill extends the civil statute of limitations to allow civil actions to be brought until a victim’s 55th birthday for child sexual abuse which occurred before age 18. A one year window has been created for adult survivors to commence civil actions for damages which under current law are barred because of the statute of limitations. This one year window will begin six months after the law takes effect so victims up until their 55th birthday can bring civil lawsuits against individuals or public and private institutions from churches to public school districts for child sexual abuse that they may have suffered many decades ago. The Legislature also removes the current Notice of Claim requirements for public entities in cases involving child sexual abuse so a Notice of Intention to make claim against municipalities within 90 days is not required in order to bring a lawsuit.

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JXe]fi[IlY\ejk\`e Sexual abuse against a child is a shameful unforgivable act. It is a traumatizing experience that can take a lifetime to come to terms with. While this new law cannot erase what happened to victims, it will give victims an opportunity to recover damages in a Court of Law for what happened to them. While the one year window to bring a legal action will not begin until 6 months after the law takes effect victims should consult an attorney as soon as possible to begin the painful and arduous task of their gathering medical records and other evidence of their victimization.

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Manhattan Happenings BY RICO BURNEY

COMMUNITY “Building the Garden”: Calling all gardeners! Join members of the New York Parks Department’s Parks Greenthumb program for a session to learn how to build connections with elected officials so they will allocate capital funding for your community garden. Tues., Feb. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Arsenal, the Parks Department headquarters, third-floor gallery, at 830 Fifth Ave. Free.

HISTORY Jewish Women’s Arrival on the Lower East Side: Lucy Shahar, a retired intercultural facilitator and consultant, explores the lives of Jewish women settling on the Lower East Side between 1870 and 1914 and the challenges they faced. She’ll use memoirs, letters and other historical documents to shed light on the women and their experiences. The session is part of a larger series titled, “Ambition, Activism and Adaptation,” that explores different aspects of these women’s lives each Wednesday between Feb. 6 and Feb. 27 at the Museum at Eldridge St., at 12 Eldridge St.

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The “Arrival” session will be on Feb. 13 at 11 a.m. Tickets are $20 for one session and $65 for a four-session bundle. “When Paris Sizzled”: Author and historian Mary McAuliffe discusses her book “When Paris Sizzled,” which details the experiences of public figures, such as Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway and Josephine Baker, in 1920s Paris. Wed., Feb 13, at 5:30 p.m. in the Yorkville Library’s children’s room, at 222 E. 79th St. Free.

MOVIES “Loving Vincent:” The innovative animated film “Loving Vincent” tells the story of Vincent van Gogh’s last days. The film pays tribute to the artist not only through its narrative but also through the fact that it is animated entirely by oil paintings. Screening at the 58th St. Library’s community meeting room, at 127 E. 58th St., on Fri., Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. Running time is 95 minutes. Free. “Traces of the Trade:” Documentarian Katrina Browne explores the North’s involvement in the American slave trade. She was inspired to make the film after discovering her New England ancestors were the largest slavetrading family in American history. Screening at Judson Memorial Church, SAME DAY SERVICE AVAILABLE

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

SUSS per forming, from left, Bob Holmes, Gar y Leib, Jonathan Gregg, William Garrett and Pat Ir win.

at 55 Washington Square South, Sun., Feb. 10, at 12 p.m. Running time is two hours. Free.

MUSIC “Remembering Jonas”: The life of Jonas Mekas —filmmaker, film critic and early champion of American experimental cinema —who died Jan. 23 at age 96, will be celebrated Thurs., Feb. 21, at 8 p.m. at City Winery, at 155 Varick St. Performers honoring the legacy of the late co-founder of the Anthology Film Archives and former Village Voice critic will include John Zorn, Richard Barone, Lee Ronaldo of Sonic Youth fame, David Amram and Glenn Mercer of The Feelies, among others. Ticket prices range from $20 to 50. All proceeds will be donated to the Anthology Film Archives. Tickets are available at https://t.co/KiSpUqhpAB. Suss, plus Drums & Drones: Suss, the self-described “ambient country” super-group that includes former members of Rubber Rodeo and the B-52’s, will be performing on Fri., Feb. 15, at the Mercury Lounge, at 217 E. Houston St., at 6:30 p.m. Drums & Drones —Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase’s solo project —will be opening. Tickets start at $12 and can be purchased at https://www.ticketfly. com/purchase/event/1809414?utm_ medium=api.

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RECREATION

ASK FOR CHRISTOPHER

“Be My Valentine Dance Night”: A free dance class by the Strictly Tango NYC Dance School will be held Fri, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m. at the Chelsea Recreation Center, at 430 W. 25th St. At-

ANTIQUE & ESTATE BUYERS WILL TRAVEL ENTIRE TRI-STATE!

26

We We buy buy anything anything old. old. One One piece piece or or house house full. full. WILL TRAVEL. HOUSE CALLS. WILL TRAVEL. HOUSE CALLS. WILL TRAVEL. WE MAKE HOUSE CALLS.

1029 WEST JERICHO TURNPIKE, SMITHTOWN L.I.

Februar y 7, 2019

FREE Estimates! TVG

tendees can come with a partner or be paired with one at the class. Additional free classes will also be offered every Wednesday between Feb. 13 and May 12. Must RSVP by 4 p.m. the day of each class due to limited space. To RSVP or find out more information, call 212-048-0243.

THEATER “beep boop” is a dark, comedic take on being lonely in the age of social media. The show, starring physical comedian Richard Saudek (“Balls”), composed by Jesse Novak (“BoJack Horseman”) and directed by Wes Gantom (“Eager to Lose”), bills itself as a multimedia clown show so meaningless, it’s meaningful. Playing at the 14th St. Y, at 344 E. 14th St., at 7:30. p.m., Feb. 6-9 and Feb. 12-16 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 10 and Feb. 17. Tickets are $35. The show runs 65 minutes. Tickets are available at https://14streety.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0S1R000008xDGGUA2.

COMMUNITY BOARDS Community Board 5 meets at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 14, in Xavier High School, 30 W. 16th St., second-floor library. Community Board 6 meets at 7 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 13, at N.Y.U. School of Dentistry, 433 First Ave., Room 220.

PRECINCT COUNCIL MEETING Seventh Precinct Community Council meets at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 13, at 19½ Pitt St. Schneps Media


Thanks to the carefully controlled nature of the firecracker explosions, kids — and their balloons — were safe from any stray firecrackers.

Year of the Pig might go hog wild with success Celebrating the Lunar New Year, the firecracker ceremony was held at Grand St. in Sara D. Roosevelt Park on Tues., Feb. 5. In addition to lots of fun explosions, there were live per formances, including singing and dancing, and vendors. This is the Year of the Pig, and it sounds like ever yone will really be shakin’ and bakin’…but hopefully eating a bit less bacon, out of respect for the Chinese zodiac animal of honor. According to thechinesezodiac. org,“2019 is a great year to make money, and a good year to invest! 2019 is going to be full of joy, a year of friendship and love for all the zodiac signs; an auspicious year because the Pig attracts success in all the spheres of life.” Schneps Media

PHOTOS BY MILO HESS

Blowing a fuse — or a few dozen — in Sara D. Roosevelt Park.

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Februar y 7, 2019

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Schneps Media


Eats

N.Y.U. opens first fully halal dining hall BY GABE HERMAN

N

ew York University has opened its first dining hall that is completely halal, meaning in accordance with Islamic dietary rules. On Jan. 27, Lipton Dining Hall, at 33 Washington Square West, at Washington Place, became the “first fully dedicated residential dining location at a major university in North America certified at the highest level of Halal through Halal Food Standards Alliance of America (HFSAA),” according to an announcement by the Islamic Center at N.Y.U. The same halal certification group, HFSAA, also monitors two other N.Y.U. dining halls at their halal sections. One is Kimmel Market Place, at 60 Washington Square South, and the other is Jasper Kane Café, at 6 MetroTech Center in Brooklyn. HFSAA monitors all foods and ingredients to make sure there are no prohibited foods or ingredients, such as alcohol or pork. The organization also does ritual cleansing of food sites, provides training for staff and regular audits of facilities, and has on-site supervisors. The Lipton Dining Hall serves buffet-style meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also has a small convenience store that only sells items that are halalcertified. “The Lipton Dining Hall is a milestone for our community,” said the imam of ICNYU, Khalid Latif, in the announce-

PHOTO COURTESY ISLAMIC CENTER AT N.Y.U.

N.Y.U.’s Lipton Dining Hall is now 100 percent halal.

ment. “I personally had the privilege of attending a soft launch of the hall…and aside from amazing food, the space itself is set up beautifully.” Latif added, “Our hope at the IC is to continue to grow and build accommodations such as these so that we can better meet the diverse needs our com-

munity.” Along with more halal dining options at N.Y.U., there are a growing number of halal food options in neighboring Greenwich Village. Of course there are halal food carts: Fifty-seven percent of the city’s food vendors are Muslim, according to Mus-

lims for American Progress. And just on MacDougal St. between Bleecker and W. Third Sts., there is Kati Roll Company, Mint Masala and Burgers by Honest Chops. The burger place was cofounded by Imam Latif, along with its sister shop Honest Chops Butchery in the East Village.

Dine The Boroughs highlights BK, BX, QNS cuisine BY ANNA SPIVAK

E

at your heart out, Manhattan! A dazzling new dining experience will promote the unique cuisines found in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx next month! Dine The Boroughs, a two-week culinary tour of some of the outer boroughs’ best bites, will feature some 200 restaurants offering pre-fi xe menu options for just $28, from March 18 to March 31. The expansive munch marathon fills a gaping hole in New York City’s beloved Restaurant Week lineup, which features hundreds of Manhattan eateries while spotlighting only a forkful of outer-borough options, according to one of the creators of Dine the Boroughs. “This is really an opportunity to promote the diverse food offerings found in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx,”

Schneps Media

PHOTO BY FESTIVAL MEDIA

Dine the Boroughs, a two-week culinar y tour of varied cuisines found in the outer boroughs, kicks off March 18.

said Joshua Schneps, the chief executive officer of Schneps Media. “We want to drive traffic to each of the boroughs be-

cause, as we all know, great food is a destination.” Joining the roster of the ultimate outTVG

er-borough feast will have no cost for participating restaurants, said Schneps. “It’s completely free for restaurants to participate,” he said. “They have to offer a pre-fi xe menu, at least for dinner, during the period of time that we’ll be holding Dine the Boroughs, and they have to be based in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx. There is no other charge, and we’re very fortunate to have such a large reach in those three areas, through our different newspapers, Web sites, newsletters and social channels, that we can really promote these restaurants.” Restaurants and sponsors interested in signing up can visitwww.dinetheboroughs.com, which in the coming weeks will be updated with a detailed list of participating eateries and their offerings. Join the Dine the Boroughs journey, presented by the Whitmore Group, by following along on social media using the hashtag: #dinetheboros Februar y 7, 2019

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ITALIAN WINE

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Manhattan Express - February 7, 2019  

February 7, 2019

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